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Jim Norton: PC culture isn’t killing comedy, it’s changing it

Comedian Jim Norton. (Courtesy photo)
LISTEN: Comedian Jim Norton on political correctness

Comedian Jim Norton has performed in front of a lot of audiences since beginning his career in the early ’90s.

Today, though, Norton says there’s a specific characteristic audiences exhibit that they didn’t used to in the past. It’s grown out of PC culture.

“It’s harder to do certain things, because people weigh in immediately on Twitter,” Norton told 770 KTTH’s Jason Rantz, “‘Oh my god, he’s a homophobe, he’s a racist, he hates women, he’s body shaming, he’s an Islamophobe.’”

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Norton knows exactly when he noticed this shift.

“It was Andrew Dice Clay,” he said. “That was when everything changed and comedy started being judged so differently. That’s also around the advent of the 24-hour news cycle. So all of a sudden people’s outrage became newsworthy because they had to fill slots.”

Norton, who plays himself in the FX TV show Louie and just released the Netflix special Mouthful of Shame, says the social media addicted audiences aren’t all bad.

“It’s more fun now, because you know that you can rile people up fairly easily,” he said, “And that’s always kind of enjoyable.”

Norton has stirred up controversy on plenty of occasions. His comedy is often intentionally explicit and vulgar. He even debated local feminist writer Lindy West about the acceptability of rape jokes in 2013.

He admits audiences sometimes don’t know what to do with him because he doesn’t align himself with any specific political group.

“Sorry, I don’t hate every single thing [Trump] does,” he said. “I’m very pro-trans obviously, and his trans-military ban is sickening. It makes me physically ill that he’s doing that. I think it’s wrong and disgusting. But, you know, do I agree with him about certain things? Sure!”

Norton believes it’s a good thing that stand-up comedy forces people to break out of their echo chambers.

“Everything is being tailor made to our little, baby-est needs and desires,” Norton said, “So when comedy isn’t made to our little, baby-est needs and desires, people get pissed off.”

Norton kicks off his “Kneeling Room Only” tour in Seattle on Sept. 22 at the Neptune Theater.

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